Guest Blogger: Julie H.

Hello friends!  I hope today finds you all doing well!  My name is Julie H. and I am a Family Service Counselor at St. Joseph’s Indian School.  Things here are St. Joseph’s are going well!

This week we celebrated Red Ribbon Week and the kids were able to take part in lots of fun activities!  There were activities such as inflatables, ice cream sundaes, relays and theme days.  The kids always enjoy celebrating Red Ribbon Week!

The next celebration we are looking forward to is Halloween.  The kids are all gearing up for the fun and planning their costumes.  The students are able to trick-or-treat on St. Joseph’s Indian School’s campus and then we have a Halloween costume contest.  The students always enjoy this time of year!

Our 6-8 grade boys just finished up their football season and the 6-8 grade girls just finished up volleyball.  Now, the girls are gearing up for basketball and have started their practices.  Their first game is November 5 and they are very excited.  The 4th and 5th grade girls have also started basketball practice.  Basketball season is a favorite time of the year for both our boys and girls.  They enjoy the sport immensely, work hard, and show great sportsmanship.  It will be fun to watch them play!

As the weather grows cooler, we are also starting to get ready for Thanksgiving and Christmas.  What a wonderful time of year for our Lakota students!  It is always a joy to be able to celebrate these holidays with the students!  The students get a nice break for both holidays so they can return home and spend time with their families.

Another great thing happening today is FAST (Families and Schools Together) graduation.  This program brings families to campus to spend quality time with their children.  The program consists of a meal, family oriented activities, a time for parents to meet together and talk, and time for parents to just have fun with their children.  We have graduated over 100 families from this program.  Tonight we graduate seven more families!  This is a great time for the families to come and spend time with their kids and for the staff who work with the students to get a chance to know families a little better as well.

As always, I thank you all for your generous donations of prayer and financial assistance!  Without your help, we could not do the great work we do!  May God’s blessings be poured out on each and every one of you!

Julie H.

Guest Blogger: Julie H.

Powwow dancing at its best!
Everyone has such a great time at St. Joseph’s Indian School’s powwow!

Greetings from St. Joseph’s Indian School!  My name is Julie H. and I have been at St. Joseph’s for almost 11 years.  Every day I thank God for leading me to this wonderful place!  I cannot tell you how much I enjoy working with our students and staff!  I also hope you all know that we are so very thankful for the donations of money, prayers and encouragement we receive from you!

This is a busy and exciting week at St. Joseph’s.  Saturday we will have our annual powwow.  The students have been working hard at dance practice and they are all getting excited for Saturday.  The powwow is always a great way to meet families, students and you – the donors who have the opportunity to come and visit.  We always love to see new faces and familiar faces alike!

So what is the powwow like?

It is a great way to see the Native dances of the Lakota (Sioux) people.  It is filled with bright colors, wonderful drum music and great dancing.  Earlier in the day, visitors have the opportunity to tour the school and homes. As the day winds down, we also share a meal together. The powwow is truly a fun-filled day!

And this year, the weather looks to be perfect!  God truly does bless us!

All are welcome at the powwow.  It is a day of fellowship and friendship.  If you are coming to join us for the powwow this year, and you find yourself with questions about St. Joseph’s, just find someone in a blue shirt, they will be happy to give explanations and answer any questions you may have!  We hope to see as many of you as possible at our powwow this year!

As always, THANK YOU for your prayers and encouragement for St. Joseph’s Indian School.  Without you, our generous benefactors, we could not do the wonderful work we do!

God Bless you all,

Julie H.

Guest Blogger: Julie H

Over the last few weeks, St. Joseph’s campus has been noisy with construction.  But campus has begun to ring with a new and happy noise… The noise of students returning to campus!!  I had the opportunity to visit many of the students I work with over the summer and most of them are ready to come back to campus and go back to school.  What a great thing to hear!  The students are excited to return and staff is just as excited to see them.

I have worked at St. Joseph’s Indian School for close to 11 years.  I have often been asked “What brought you to St. Joseph’s Indian School?” or “Why have you stayed at St. Joseph’s Indian School?”  The answer is really pretty simple.  I came to St. Joseph’s Indian School because I was excited about the opportunity to work with Native American youth.  I have worked with kids since I was in college and that is where I found my niche.  I love working with kids.  So the opportunity to work with Native American youth was something I just could not pass up.

Why have I stayed?  Well, that answer is pretty simple too.  What brings me back to St. Joseph’s Indian School, as well as most staff you will ask, year after year, is the students and the families I am blessed to have the opportunity to work with.  I have the opportunity, each year, to work with some of the greatest kids on the planet.  They are creative, fun, out-going, resilient and all around good kids.

I grew up in a wonderful environment and I feel God has called me to help be a part of the great environment we offer the students and families we work with here at St. Joseph’s Indian School.  Every day is not great, sometimes our students struggle, but being able to be a positive role model and helper for our students and families, humbles and honors me.

As we come to the close of summer, I would ask for prayers for our students and their families, as well as the staff of St. Joseph’s Indian School, as we return to school.  We will all keep you in our thoughts and prayers as well!  Have a wonderful rest of the summer and if you are ever in the area, stop by and say hello!


Family Service Counselor

Guest Blogger: Julie H.

Greetings from warm and sunny Chamberlain, South Dakota!  St. Joseph’s Indian School sends warm regards and blessings to all of you!

My name is Julie H. and I have been with St. Joseph’s Indian School for almost 11 years.  What a great 11 years it has been!  I am currently a Family Service Counselor and work with girls in grades 6-12.  I work under the umbrella of the Clinical Services Department.  The Clinical Services Department is currently made up of 13 staff.  We have nine Family Service Counselors, a Drug and Alcohol Prevention Specialist, a Family Liaison and Clinical Support staff, all led by our fearless Clinical Director.  What does the Clinical Services Department do?  Well, we do a little bit of everything!

Our nine Family Service Counselors work with all students in grades 1-12.  We offer weekly individual counseling, group counseling, and enrichment activities.  We also serve as a contact and liaison with our students’ families.

We are available to assist houseparents with questions and concerns they may have regarding student issues.  We run a group for our high school students called Sons and Daughters of Tradition.  The focus of this group is to help the students get back to their Native roots, while working on Drug and Alcohol Prevention.   Family Service Counselors are also available to help in the school should a student have difficulties throughout the day.  Family Service Counselors wear many hats, but our main priority is being here to help the students and their families with anything they need.

Our Drug and Alcohol Prevention Specialist works with the students on drug and alcohol prevention, helping students learn to say NO to substance abuse.  Our Prevention Specialist runs a group called Red Path, coordinates activities for Red Ribbon Week and our other Sobriety Celebrations.

Our Clinical Support Specialist is truly a jack of all trades!  She works on admissions, sets up travel plans for our students who participate in donor luncheons and helps out the department in any way she can.  She is a great support to all of us!

The Family Liaison coordinates and recruits families for our FAST (Families and Schools Together) program.  She works hard to get everything ready for our programs, helps transports families to the program and is an integral staff person in the program itself.  After the program concludes, she also continues to meet with the families that have graduated from the program.

Our Clinical Director keeps us all in line!  She is a great supervisor and is available to assist any of us when we have questions or concerns regarding our students and families.  Our Clinical Director oversees all of the programs of the department and is a great support and resource.

That is just a quick overview of what the Clinical Services Department does.  There is a great deal we do, but with limited blog space, I just wanted to offer you the highlights!

If you are ever in Chamberlain, at St. Joseph’s Indian School and you want a greater overview of all of the great work the Clinical Services Department does, please stop by!  Any of the departments would be happy to sit down with you and answer questions you may have!

Have a safe, blessed and great summer!

Julie H. (Family Service Counselor)

Guest Blogger: Julie H

Hello!  Can you believe that summer is in full swing?  Things here at St. Joseph’s Indian School, although it is summer, continue to move along swiftly!

My name is Julie and I have been here at St. Joseph’s Indian School for over 10 years.  I currently work as a Family Service Counselor.  During the school year, I stay busy seeing students for individual counseling, group counseling, and enrichment activities.  But what does a counselor do in the summer when most of the kids are gone?  Well, that is a good question!

As a Family Service Counselor at St. Joseph’s Indian School, part of my duties in the summer include traveling to see the students and families with whom I work during the school year.  We visit with the students and families to make sure their summer is going well and to see if there is anything we can help with while the students are at home.  Most of the time, this is just a check in and a great time to visit with students and families.

So far this summer, I have been to Eagle Butte to visit with one of my students.  This week will take me to on two or three more trips and the rest of the summer is filling up with travel as well!  Though many of our students are from the nearby Indian reservations of Fort Thompson and Lower Brule, we also travel as far away as Pine Ridge and Nebraska to visit Native American students.

Another thing the Family Services Counselors do during the summer is work on student admissions. Of course, we need to fill the first grade class with new students and other grades may have openings as well.  Part of the admissions process includes going to the prospective student’s home to meet them and their family.  A short interview is conducted to gain some background information on the student, and this is a great time to start building a strong relationship with the student and their family.

Interspersed with all of the travel, the Family Service Counselors work on getting consent forms signed for the next school year, finish up paperwork and start preparing for the kids to return.  Summer is also a good time to attend workshops to keep us up to date on the current trends and best practices in counseling.

The best part of the summer is getting to go out and see our students and their families, as well as meeting new families.  Although most of the kids were ready for summer to get here, they sure seem happy to see us when we visit! 🙂  And many times the first question they ask is,

“When do I get to come back to St. Joe’s for school?”

I hope you all have a blessed and safe summer! – Julie H

Guest Blogger: Julie H.

And the summer begins…

Eight grade graduation at St. Joseph's Indian School.
Jarrad and Fr. Steve at this weekend’s eight grade graduation ceremony.

On May 25th, 2012, St. Joseph’s Indian School was proud to watch 21 eighth grade students process into Our Lady of the Sioux Chapel and graduate from eighth grade.  It was a wonderful day, full of celebration.  We, the staff of St. Joseph’s Indian School, are always humbled and honored and to be able to spend such a special day with our students and their families.  While it was a bit cool, the day went off without a hitch and the graduation ceremony was truly lovely.

So what does it mean to graduate from eighth grade?  For many of our Native American students, they will return to St. Joseph’s Indian School in the fall to be a part of our High School program.  For others, they will begin a new journey in a new place.  No matter where they are going, it is a new chapter for our eighth grade students as they begin their high school career.  Some are nervous, some are excited, some a bit scared, but in my opinion, all of them are ready to take on this new challenge.

For those returning to St. Joseph’s Indian School this fall for the high school program, they will come and spend three weeks on campus, beginning on May 28, 2012, to go through our transition program which will help get them ready to attend Chamberlain High School this fall.  It is just a preview of what they will be experiencing at a new school.  The students will get to meet some of the Chamberlain High School teachers, tour the Chamberlain High School, and begin to the learn ropes of being a freshman.  It is a great introduction to what they can expect this fall.

While the eighth grade students are preparing for the fall, the Clinical Services Department is doing the same.  This summer, the Clinical Services Department will spend a great deal of time traveling.  What do we do while we are traveling?  We visit our current students and their families and we work on admissions for the fall.  Part of the admissions process is to interview the student and their families to learn a bit more about them and to see if their needs can be met by St. Joseph’s Indian School.  It is a great time to start building relationships with new students and families.  Traveling to see our current students and their families is just another part of building relationships with those already a part of St. Joseph’s Indian School as well.

While summers can be a bit quiet around St. Joseph’s Indian School, there is always someone around, so if you are in the area, make sure and stop by to see us!  We are always willing to give a tour, talk about what we do and share what a great place St. Joseph’s Indian School is.  So come and see us, you are always welcome!

Julie H.
Family Service Counselor

Spring has sprung at St. Joseph’s Indian School

Spring has sprung and the campus at St. Joseph’s Indian School is coming alive!  The kids have returned from their Easter break  and now look toward the end of the school year. With the warmer temperatures the students are spending as much time outside as they can!  There are a great many activities going on for our students, tee-ball, softball, soccer and track to name a few.  The students stay busy and and their teachers, houseparents and support staff are always there supporting and cheering them on in all of their activities !

What does the end of school year mean for the Clinical Services Department?  Well, we spend the rest of the school year helping the kids stay focused on school and helping the older students finalize plans for driver’s education, summer employment, INMED (Indians in Medicine), Gear Up and plans for next year. We also work with our eighth grade students to  to prepare them for high school.

As spring gives way to summer, we will start working on new student admissions for next school year. The Family Service Counselors travel in the summer to visit our students and meet new prospective students and families. Traveling around the state to visit with old and new students  is always a great part of the summer.

As another year begins to wind down, I am thankful for the time I have been able to spend with our Native American students. The students get excited to go home and be with their families, but hopefully they know we will miss them while they are away for the summer!

Designed to help bring families closer together

American Indian kids playing games around the table.
Family time is so important for today's youth.

Hello friends of St. Joseph’s Indian School!

Last weekend saw the start of our Families and Schools Together (FAST) program.  We have been running FAST for several years and have graduated over 100 families.  It is a great, fun program!

FAST is held two times per year – once in the fall and once in the spring.  This round of FAST runs on Friday evenings and Saturday mornings, for a total of eight sessions (four weekends).  The program is designed to help bring families closer together, while giving families a chance to meet staff.

During each session, families participate in several activities, including:

  • Time for parents to meet as a group
  • Time for an identified child to receive 15 minutes of uninterrupted time with a parent
  • Games, like Feelings Charades
  • A meal

A lot of fun is had by all!  There is singing, laughter, play and time for families to spend together.  Our first weekend went wonderfully, and we look forward to our next weekend of FAST!

The students are also gearing up for Spring Break, which starts at the end of next week.  Other than a few days at Easter, Spring Break is our last big break and signifies that school is moving toward the end of the year.  Hopefully the weather will cooperate and we will get all of our Native American students and families home safely for the break!

Warm wishes to all of you,


Family Service Counselor

Getting back into the routine of St. Joseph’s

Hello and happy new year to all!

My name is Julie and I am a Family Service Counselor here at St. Joseph’s Indian School.  I have worked at St. Joseph’s Indian School for over 10 years and I love it as much today, as I did my first day!  The students have returned from break full of stories about what they did over Christmas.  They are happy to be back and working on settling back into the routine of St. Joseph’s.

What a great group of students I get to work with!

I work with girls grades 6-12 and provide services such as individual counseling, group counseling, guidance and enrichment activities.  Some of the groups that I help facilitate include Daughters of Tradition, Stress Management and Grief Group.  I also work with students on issues such as transitioning into high school and plans for post-high school.  This year, I started a scrapbooking project with several of my students.  What a great way to help them remember their years here at St. Joseph’s.  While we are just getting started on this, the girls like the idea of having a way to remember friends and staff from St. Joseph’s.  I also do memory scrapbooking with our Native American students who have lost loved ones.  I also teach a guidance class.  This year in guidance, we are working on friendships, anger management, stress management, racism, substance abuse prevention and goals for the future.  We have class one time per week and I love working with the 6th grade class.

Thank you to all who support our work here at St. Joseph’s through praying and giving.  We could not provide the wonderful environment we do without all of you!  We hope to have you come and visit us sometime!